Gonging Mick Jagger

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Call it the Taki curse?I did, after all, ask for his arrest in last week's column?but happiness is waking up in rainy London and reading in the Herald Tribune that the former chief executive of ImClone Systems Inc. has been arrested by the FBI and charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Hear, hear!

In my opinion, Sam Waksal's crimes are much more than insider trading and tipping off family members and other unidentified persons in Florida to dump the stock. From the start there was a plan to promote Erbitux, an experimental cancer drug, to drive up the stock price. This is medieval cruelty against cancer sufferers practiced by an unscrupulous Waksal family eager to join the celebrity caviar-and-champagne crowd. What worries me is that some dumb prosecutor will make a weak government case against the legal eagles the disgusting Waksal is sure to hire. This is what's wrong with democracy. Too many rich crooks beat the rap. The Waksals should be forced to return all their ill-gotten gains, every single penny, and then do some quality jail time "pour encourager les autres," as Monsieur Voltaire insisted. If Waksal gets away with it, and gets to keep most of his moolah, it will give the kind of signal Wall Street can do without, especially after the excesses of the 90s. For once I'm rooting for the government. If Devil's Island existed and I were a judge, that's where Waksal would end up, but, alas, those good old days are gone forever. (I wonder if Mick Jagger and Martha Stewart are still eager to be photographed with the crook.)

And speaking of Mick Jagger, the British press, the yellowest in Europe, has gone ape over a report that the aging rocker will become Sir Mick. For any of you who may be unfamiliar with the British honours system (I spell it the English way), they are referred to as gongs, and are awarded to all and sundry, from the powerful such as newspaper proprietors and editors, to the rich, who receive their titles in exchange for contributing to party funds, down to civil servants who somehow advance up the slippery pole regardless of who is in power. There are also honours given to the teaching and medical professions, and to those who work for charities.

Since Tony Blair became prime minister in 1997, he has shamelessly ennobled some pretty shady people who have stuffed Labour's coffers, but he is not the first to do it. Lloyd George, the Welsh windbag, was as bad as the lying Tony Blair. Although the Queen hands out the gongs, it is on the recommendation of the prime minister, and giving a knighthood to such a controversial figure as Jagger will make the honours system seem more "cool" in the eyes of a younger generation. The award is further proof, if any were needed, of the Blair government's pathetic attempts to win votes by schmoozing pop idols and soap opera stars while Britain's education system, healthcare and transport slide even further into Third World decay.

Now for the controversy. The chief objection to Jagger's becoming Sir Mick is his checkered past, which includes an arrest for drugs, a brief imprisonment, a noted lack of eagerness to pay too much tax to Her majesty's Treasury and a failure to devote himself to good works. In fact, a hagiographer of the Rolling Stones, Philip Norman, went so far as to call the knighting of Jagger a disgrace and a travesty. "Indeed, in the whole field of pop stardom, I can think of no one who less deserves such an honor." The reason for this is Jagger's lack of social conscience and patriotism. Whereas Elton John and Cliff Richard, both knights, continued to live in Britain and pay punitive taxes, Jagger had become a tax exile by the early 70s. A notorious tightwad, Mick has never parted with a substantial amount of money despite the fact he has fathered many children with various women. No one gets rich from getting laid by Jagger, goes the saying among those in the know, not even if they produce a meal ticket.

Sometime during the 90s, while writing a column for the Sunday Times in London, I began a campaign for Jackie Stewart to receive a knighthood. Jackie had not only won three Formula I world championships in a British car, he had spent the last quarter century working for charitable causes. When I spoke to a Tory government minister who was a friend of mine and inquired why Jackie had been left off the list, he told me it was because of his having moved to Geneva. When Jackie chose Geneva, the taxes in Britain were confiscatory, and although he risked his life daily?many grand prix drivers back then died horrible and fiery deaths?his profits were minimal compared to today. Finally, a couple of years ago, after Jackie moved back to England, he got his gong, 25 years too late as far as I'm concerned.

Jagger, however, continues to be a tax exile, and has never done a single thing for charity. This is the media's opinion, not mine, because although I think all pop stars are clowns, and the honours system completely debased by the politicians, whether Jagger is Sir Mick or just plain Mick could not interest me less. Inherited titles, which represent tradition and continuity, not to mention responsibility, are a different matter altogether, but I'll talk about that some other time. What amazes me is the time and newspaper space wasted on whether or not Jagger will get his gong. As one headline put it, "He's a self-centered, philandering, drugtaking, ex-jailbird tax exile whose whole life has been devoted to the pursuit of pleasure...all in all, the perfect credentials for a Blair honor." Close, but no cigar. Thank God I'm not self-centered, or a tax exile, otherwise it could have been little old me they were referring to.

Did I say I was not self-centered? As Keith Kelly has blown my cover?how does he find out these things??and published it in the New York Post last week, yes, Pat Buchanan, Scott McConnell and I are starting a national fortnightly in the autumn called The American Conservative. Our motto is that we are traditional conservatives mugged by the neocons. For Christ's sake, Pat, Scott and I were conservatives when the Podhoretzes of this world were schmoozing Uncle Joe Stalin. Who the hell is William Kristol anyway, to tell people like Pat and me how we should think? Kristol is an ambitious careerist who would be on the left of Alex Cockburn if the wind were blowing thataway.

The real conservatives are people like Bill Buckley, Pat, Scott, Joe Sobran, Peter Brimelow, George Szamuely and countless others whom the neocons have shut out because we refuse to take orders from opportunists and turncoats. I hope all of you out there follow our progress?it's going to be a tough fight.

And while I'm at it, I read in "MUGGER" that Matt Drudge has dropped his column and mine. What the hell was that all about? I named him columnist of the year, and he drops my column because this Signorile fellow fights with fellow gays? What do I have to do with gay cat fights?

Come on, Matt, put us back tout de suite, both MUGGER and the poor little Greek boy, who will be much poorer as soon as TAC starts to publish.

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